A couple of proud family athletics traditions were continued tonight on the fourth evening session of the 11th edition of the IAAF World Junior Championships. And Team USA finally managed to secure gold, achieved with a very impressive performance too!
Rudisha completes a perfect set of championship races
Coming off the final bend it looked like Europe might manage a surprise title in the men’s 800m. Poland’s Marcin Lewandowski swept into the straight to challenge for the lead but just as he engaged fourth gear, his east African challengers found over-drive and that was the end of his medal let alone title hopes. Clear away instead was David Rudisha (1:47.40), followed home by fellow Kenyan Jackson Kivuva (1:47.64) and Uganda’s Abraham Chepkirwok (1:47.79) in third. The Pole managed a creditable fourth (1:48.25), but Rudisha, the son of Daniel, one of Kenya’s 1972 Olympic gold medal 4x400m relay quartet, was the man in form throughout the week, the winner of his heat, semi and now final.
Cristea times it perfectly unlike the opposition
In the women’s two lap final, Moldova’s Olga Cristea did what Lewandowski couldn’t quite manage in the men’s 800, bringing Europe a middle distance gold. Her turn of speed in the finishing straight was unstoppable, and its reward was her season’s best of 2:04.52, enough to beat off the challenge from Kenya’s Winny Chebet (2:04.59 PB). A late, badly timed run by USA’s Rebekah Noble took third (2:04.90). It is quite possible that if the prodigiously talented American (coming into these champs with a 2:02.07 PB, the world junior season’s lead) had been closer to the leaders at the bell, we would have been standing to the USA national anthem and not that of Moldova later in the evening.
Estonia secures third gold
Incidentally at this point in the night (about 1900 local time) no American had yet won a title at these championships – incredible – and with no contestant through to the men’s 200m final that was not going to change with the next event on the track either. In any case it won’t be long now before we know how to hum the strains of the Estonian national anthem, as well as that of the USA. Bringing home the Baltic nation’s third title in Beijing was Marek Nitt in a national junior record of 20.96.
Ukraine’s Dmytro Ostrovsky had actually crossed the line first in 20.89, but was subsequently found to have stepped out of lane and so was disqualified. As Nitt moved up to gold, Canada’s Brian Barnett (21.00) ascended to second, and Britain’s Alexander Nelson skipped up onto the podium in 21.14.
High Jump Qualification…
Keeping the Estonian theme going, Viktoria Leks was the equal best athlete of this evening’s automatic (1.83m) qualifiers for the women’s High Jump final on Sunday (20), with China’s Xingjuan Zheng also having a perfectly clean jumping card.
Sprint double for Naimova
It was fast becoming Europe’s night in the Chaoyang Sport Centre, as five minutes later Tezdzhan Naimova of Bulgaria made it a sprint double taking the women’s 200m in 22.99 seconds, a personal best. If we just mention simply that Vanda Gomes of Brazil (23.59) and Poland’s Ewelina Klocek (23.63 PB) took the silver and bronze, and say nothing more, this should not be taken as a lack of respect to either minor medallists. This final was not a race in the true sense, it was an exhibition of Naimova’s sprinting prowess during which she destroyed the opposition.
Carter provides USA with gold at last!
Finally, the fifth track final of the night brought some respectability to the USA delegation in China. From the sound of the gun Chris Carter put the men’s 400m Hurdles gold into his pocket with a powerful but controlled display of hurdling. Ahead from the second flight Carter was never headed winning in 50.08 seconds. The world’s fastest junior of the season (49.19), during a brief trackside interview after the final immediately declared that he would be taking a two year sabbatical after the 2007 season and so would not be competing here at the 2008 Olympics, and that his focus was on 2012.
>>Editor's note - thanks to all who pointed out my major error regarding Chris' parentage. It would have been great to have said I was "just testing you" but I have a feeling you wouldn't believe me. So let's just put it down to the heat here in Beijing! So keep reading, if only for the laughs, though none this AM I promise as I'm taking the morning session off! Chris Turner, IAAF Editorial Manager<<
Second tonight was Saudi Bandar Shraheli (50.34 PB) with Ukraine’s Stanislav Melnykov (50.43) taking the Bronze. There was a Dutch national record for Daniel Franken (51.08) in fifth.
Shtepa eases her way to gold
But American luck didn’t hold out for long. In the next and last track final of the evening, the race of April Williams in lane four - American favourite for the women’s 100m Hurdles and the season’s fastest (13.35) - fell apart at the penultimate flight of barriers. Easing fluently past in the two lanes outside the American were Russia’s Yekarterina Shtepa and Christina Vukicevic of Norway. The Russian crossed in a world junior lead of 13.33 - a personal best - with the Norwegian taking silver (13.34) in a national junior record. She had set her previous PB of 13.45 when qualifying for the final as the fastest of the semi-finalists at the start of the evening.
Shtepa, who will celebrate her 19th birthday on 25 August, is the national junior champion this year, setting her previous best of 13.34 at the time (21 July in Tula).
Zhou’s gold but the world will hear from Volik again
Russia missed out on what prior to these championships had seemed a likely gold medal in the women’s Pole Vault. 16-year-old Valeriya Volik, who set a World Youth best of 4.40m in Kazan on 8 July, the best performance by a junior this year, could go not better than 4.10m tonight. There is no doubting that we will hear a lot more of Volik, who is coached by Yelena Isinbayeva’s former trainer, Yevgeniy Trofimov.
Up at the sharp end of the final tonight was China’s Yang Zhou who won gold with 4.30m, with a Slovenian national junior record of 4.25m securing silver for Tina Sutej, and 15-year-old Vicky Parnov of Australia, the niece of 2000 Olympic silver medallist Tatiana Grigorieva, taking bronze (4.20m).
Round two decides gold
Throwing second of the twelve finalists, Russia’s World Junior record holder (82.60m)* Yevgeniy Aydamirov took gold in the men’s Hammer Throw with a second round 78.42m release. Not that the 18-year-old would have felt very confident in that position at the time, as just nine throws later Hungary’s Kristof Nemeth released a 78.39m effort. These two performances ultimately took the top-two medals but with the Hungarian hitting 78.33m with his next and 77.16m and 77.00m on his fourth and fifth attempts there was always a suggestion of a possible upset on the cards. None came, and with a 77.06m heave in the penultimate series of throws Slovakia’s Marcel Lomnicky set a new national junior record for bronze.
Of the rest of the field, there were also national junior records for Belarussia’s Yury Shayunov (76.95m, 4th), Dakai Qi of China (75.97m, 6th), and Walter Henning of USA (71.90m, 8th).
Russia stands 1 – 2 overnight
At the end of four events, Russian Tatyana Chernova continues to lead the women’s Heptathlon. She could not manage to continue the run of PBs which she established in this morning’s opening two disciplines, as her Shot Put of 12.18m (673pts) was somewhat off her PB of 12.26 set in Kazan on 8 July this year, but she was back in career best form in the final event of day one, with a 200m clocking of 24.05 seconds (976pts). PBs were set in both these events (13.35 – 751pts / 25.03 - 884pts) by her compatriot Yana Panteleyeva who lies in second place overnight (3519pts), with Norway’s Ida Marcussen (13.68 – 773pts / 24.72 – 913pts) in bronze (3480) having PB’d throughout the day.
Chris Turner for the IAAF
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